Target Heart RateTo get the most out of your exercise, you should frequently monitor your exercise intensity, this will insure that you are working within you heart rate training range. If you exercise too hard, you're likely to injure yourself, conversely, if you're not working hard enough, you may not get the results you desire.
When starting an exercise program, aim at the lowest part of your target range (50 percent) during the first few weeks. This is your initial target heart rate. Gradually build up to the higher part of your target range (75 percent) thus increasing your target heart rate. After six months or more of regular exercise, you may be able to exercise comfortably at up to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate/target heart range. However, you don't have to exercise with this much effort in order to to maintain a healthy level of fitness.
- Healthy Heart Range (Warm up) --- 50 - 60% of maximum heart rate: The easiest range and probably the best range for people just starting a fitness program. This range has been shown to help decrease body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol. It also decreases the risk of degenerative diseases and has a low risk of injury. 85% of calories burned in this range are fats!
Fitness Range (Fat Burning) --- 60 - 70% of maximum heart rate: This range provides the same benefits as the healthy heart range, but is more intense and burns more total calories. The percent of fat calories is still 85%.
Aerobic Range (Endurance Training) --- 70 - 80% of maximum heart rate: The aerobic range will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory system AND increase the size and strength of your heart. This is the preferred range if you are training for an endurance event. More calories are burned with 50% from fat.
Anaerobic Range (Performance Training) --- 80 - 90% of maximum heart rate: Benefits of this range include an improved VO2 maximum (the highest amount of oxygen one can consume during exercise) and thus an improved cardio-respiratory system, and a higher lactate tolerance ability which means your endurance will improve and you'll be better equipped to fight fatigue. This is a high intensity range burning more calories, 15 % from fat.
Red Line (Maximum Effort) --- 90 - 100% of maximum heart rate: Although this range burns the highest number of calories, it is very intense. Most people can only stay in this range for short periods. You should only train in this range if you are very fit.
How to take your pulse
Place your index and middle fingers directly under your ear, then slide your fingers down until they are directly under your jawbone, pressing lightly. Start with zero on the first beat and count for 10 seconds then multiply by six. Always check your pulse frequently throughout your workout to make sure you within your target heart rate range.